Extensive partnership support for rough sleepers
In response to the national COVID-19 lockdown, 90 men and women who were known to be homeless or sleeping rough in our town are currently being housed, fed and supported in two hotels in Northampton.
This has only been possible due to the strong and effective partnership relationships between Northampton Borough Council, Northampton Hope Centre, the Northampton Association for the Accommodation of the Single Homeless (NAASH) and a wide range of other local services and organisations.
Members of the Single Homelessness Forum, including Churches Together in Northampton, are talking regularly with one another about the action required to ensure that everyone who is homeless is not only protected from COVID-19 but also receives the help they need to move on successfully into settled housing.
Everyone who is placed in the hotels receives three meals a day, toiletries, fresh clothing, a fortnightly laundry service and access to a joined-up treatment and support service that helps guests to address their drug and alcohol use and receive help with any physical or mental health issues.
Some of the groups that are involved in the project have previously handed out food and tents to people on the streets but have now adapted their service to help the rough sleepers in the hotels instead.
Although some people remain on the streets, the complex reasons for this are being addressed and attempts continue to be made to point them in the direction of the help and support required.
Since moving into the hotels five weeks ago, most of the people who had been sleeping rough, including many of the most entrenched rough sleepers, have made huge, positive changes in their lives and said they want to make the most of this opportunity to receive the help, support and housing they need.
After a busy first phase of moving people into the hotels and stabilising them, it is now time to concentrate on where they will live when they leave the hotels.
New partnerships are springing up, especially in Northampton’s large and buoyant private rented sector. Eager to help, landlords are offering the Council and NAASH move-on accommodation for people who have been sleeping rough.
Revd Sue Faulkner, the Chair of the Single homelessness Forum, said: “This COVID-19 public health emergency, and our response to it, has shown us that rough sleeping isn’t inevitable and that, if we all work together, we can break this vicious circle, keep people safe and prevent rough sleepers from returning to the street.
“Organisations such as NAASH have a proven track record of successfully supporting tenants and working well with private landlords to ensure that housing is well managed and tenancy conditions are complied with.
“The private rented sector has an important role to play in our plans to move everyone on from the hotels and we are hoping that up to 40 people will be rehoused in the private sector during the next 7 weeks.”
Landlords who are interested in letting their private rented accommodation to homeless people should contact NAASH on (01604) 630042.
Feedback we have received from the guests:
“Thank you for helping me get on track with life. To most people this don’t seem a lot. But for people like me it’s a massive life changer and I am now off the drugs, eating more than I was, can now shower when I want. A big thank you for the time you take to help us on a day to day basis.” Female, aged 34.
“Since coming into the hotel at the beginning of the lockdown, things have been so much better for me. It has given me the stability and security I need to cope with my recovery from addiction. It gives me routine being in one fixed place. Although it has taken such a nasty thing for this to happen, I am going to benefit from it in the long run and I am very grateful to everyone involved in making this happen for us. It was dealt with in such a good and fast way considering that no-one knew what was going on in the beginning. You have been amazing at dealing with the whole situation and all of our different problems. We all say thank you to everyone involved.” Male, aged 35.
“Thank you for picking me up again, when I really went down the swanny. I am just letting you all know that I am thanking you again, for getting me back up on my feet and giving me that big push. I am on the road to recovery now, getting better each day, plus thank you for the food, clothes, showers, footwear, phone calls, thank you everyone.” Female, aged 37.
“Since I have been staying in the hotel, I have not been using drugs. I am off the street, keeping myself clean, having my washing done and eating properly. I also have emotional support and if it wasn’t for the team I think I would be dead on the streets or seriously ill in hospital. It has saved my life and I would like to thank everyone. It has changed my life for the better, thank you.” Male, aged 35.
“Being in the hotel has helped me sort my head out a lot, being able to shower and clean my clothes. It has slowed my drug usage right down.” Male, aged 33.
“Being placed in the hotel and having somewhere stable and comfortable to stay has made such a huge difference to my life. From the smallest things that we take for granted, such as personal hygiene, being able to shower each day and having clothes, right down to the much bigger things like probation and the fact I have managed to complete my license since getting released from prison at the beginning of February, which is a very big achievement for me. I honestly believe that if I had still been living out on the streets sleeping rough, the chances of me finishing my license would have been slim to none! It has also made a big difference being able to have access to various agencies, like doctors etc, to arrange and make appointments. Before being here my level of engagement was very poor. Most importantly, gaining support from the workers that are working tirelessly alongside every one of us staying here whenever we need it. I am extremely grateful for each and every person who has made this possible. Thank you guys for making it happen, it has truly changed my life massively for the better.” Female, aged 26.
“Thanks for being there from day one. Since I became homeless you have been a god send with little self-care bags and clothes and the food. I will forever be grateful. I’ve never been shown so much kindness in my life by everyone. Wonderful people.” Female, aged 27.
“My experience being in the hotel has been really great. I have been homeless before and it was really hard. Having a shelter over my head has been really good and also having very supportive staff around 24/7 when I am struggling or just to cheer me up has been really helpful. The food is amazing and also the facilities. I am very thankful for this and have made some wonderful friends.” Female, aged 24.